Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

Hoverboarding dentist gets 12 years in prison for fraud, unlawful dental acts

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 3:53pm
Close-up photograph of feet on hoverboard on institutional floor.

Enlarge / A man tests out a Hovertrax hoverboard produced by Razor at the International Toy Fair 2017 in Nuremberg, Germany, on January 1, 2017. (credit: Getty | picture alliance)

The infamous hoverboarding dentist of Alaska has been found guilty of fraud and unlawful dental acts and was sentenced to 12 years in prison this week, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Dentist Seth Lookhart was charged with 42 counts in 2017. Most of the charges related to a scheme to unnecessarily sedate patients or keep them sedated for extended periods of time so that Lookhart could inflate Medicaid billing. Prosecutors found that Lookhart extensively detailed the scheme himself in text messages and raked in nearly $2 million from the unjustified sedation.

But, despite his lucrative sedations, Lookhart is likely best known for being the dentist who, in 2016, pulled a tooth from a sedated patient while wobbling on a wheeled “hoverboard” scooter. The evidence for this transgression again came from Lookhart himself, who had the hoverboard procedure captured on video. Lookhart then shared the video with several people.

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Here are the winners of the 2020 Ig Nobel Prizes to make you laugh, then think

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 3:00pm

The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony: introducing 10 new Ig Nobel Prize winners, each of whom has done something that makes people laugh, then think.

Ah, science, tirelessly striving to answer such burning questions as what alligators sound like when they breathe in helium-enriched air and whether knives fashioned out of frozen feces constitute a viable cutting tool. These and other unusual research topics were honored tonight in a virtual ceremony—thanks to the ongoing pandemic—to announce the 2020 recipients of the annual Ig Nobel Prizes. You can watch the livestream of the awards ceremony above.

Established in 1991, the Ig Nobels are a good-natured parody of the Nobel Prizes that honors "achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." The unapologetically campy award ceremony usually features mini-operas, scientific demos, and the 24/7 lectures whereby experts must explain their work twice: once in 24 seconds, and the second in just seven words. Acceptance speeches are limited to 60 seconds. And as the motto implies, the research being honored might seem ridiculous at first glance, but that doesn't mean it is devoid of scientific merit. Traditionally, the winners also give public talks in Boston the day after the awards ceremony; this year, the talks will be given as webcasts a few weeks from now.

The winners receive eternal Ig Nobel fame and a 10-trillion dollar bill from Zimbabwe. It's a long-running Ig Nobel gag. Zimbabwe stopped using its native currency in 2009 because of skyrocketing inflation and hyperinflation; at its nadir, the 100-trillion dollar bill was roughly the equivalent of 40 cents US. (Last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced the "zollar" as a potential replacement.) The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Mathematics was awarded to the then-head of the RBZ, Gideon Gono, "for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers—from very small to very big—by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000)."

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Sony makes it official: PlayStation 5 won’t natively support PS1, PS2, PS3

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 2:45pm
Were you hoping to play classic PlayStation discs on the newest PlayStation 5 console later this year? If so, we have bad news.

Enlarge / Were you hoping to play classic PlayStation discs on the newest PlayStation 5 console later this year? If so, we have bad news. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Wednesday's deluge of PlayStation 5 news mostly revolved around brand-new content launching alongside the console on November 12. Lost in the fray was a key detail that confirmed an August leak about PS5: its lack of sweeping backward-compatibility support.

In a Wednesday interview, Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu asked Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Jim Ryan about the new console's compatibility with PS1, PS2, and PS3 discs or downloads. Ryan explained that "PS5-specific engineering" meant the design team was mostly focused on "the simultaneous use of high-speed SSDs and the new DualSense controller."

This prevented Sony from delivering compatibility with older consoles, Ryan told Famitsu, even though he made clear that Sony wanted to support PlayStation 4's "100 million players" by developing compatibility with "99%" of PS4 games, since "we thought that they would like to play PS4 titles on the PS5, as well."

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White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 1:55pm
Image of President Trump speaking from behind a lectern.

Enlarge / US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in which he frequently contradicted his own health experts. (credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images)

There was good news and then bad news for public health expertise yesterday. In the wake of increasingly unhinged behavior from a President Trump-appointed communications director at the US Department of Health and Human Services, he and one of his key appointees have left their posts—one for two months, one permanently. But any hopes that science might resume being the main driver of US health policy were short-lived. Earlier in the day, CDC head Robert Redfield and other Health and Human Services officials testified before a Senate panel. By the evening, the president himself was calling his own CDC director mistaken about everything from mask use to the schedule of vaccine availability.

By the end of the day, Redfield was tweeting statements that balanced ambiguity against seeming to support Trump's view.

A backdrop of turmoil

A constant background of tension has existed between the Trump administration (which wants the country to return to normal operations despite the medical consequences) and public health officials (who actually want to protect the public's health). But several things have driven those tensions into the open recently, starting with last week's revelation that political appointees were attempting to interfere with reports from career scientists at the CDC. That issue was seemingly resolved in the CDC's favor, as a key administration figure in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Michael Caputo, took a two-month medical leave after making a video in which he spoke of armed uprisings and conspiratorial cabals of CDC scientists.

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Hands-on with Intel’s i7-1185G7 Tiger Lake prototype laptop

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 1:45pm
A cutting-edge laptop computer sits on a wooden desk.

Enlarge / This MSI-built reference system is powered with a Tiger Lake i7-1185G7, the highest-end CPU in Intel's upcoming lineup. (credit: Jim Salter)

We've been very interested in Intel's upcoming laptop CPUs, codenamed Tiger Lake, since the company's Architecture Day event in August. Tiger Lake's official launch event earlier this month didn't offer much red meat for anyone already up-to-date on the news—but today, we finally have our own hands-on test results to share.

Much as Intel did during Tiger Lake's launch event, we're going to focus heavily on Intel versus AMD in our own tests and analysis. In our opinion, the current generation-on-generation within Intel's own lineup is fairly boring (yes, it's faster than its old parts). Instead, the real question is whether Intel finally has an answer to AMD's Renoir architecture—and the answer isn't as simple as "yes" or "no."

Our reference system has the top-of-the-line Core i7-1185G7 CPU, tuned for a 28W default TDP—although that, too, gets complicated. For now, we'll just note that it's the fastest Tiger Lake CPU to be announced. However, assuming one i7-1185G7 system is much like the next would be a mistake.

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Patient dies after ransomware attack reroutes her to remote hospital

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 1:06pm
Photograph of the backdoor of an ambulance.

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Malone / Flickr)

A woman seeking emergency treatment for a life-threatening condition died after a ransomware attack crippled a nearby hospital in Duesseldorf, Germany, and forced her to obtain services from a more distant facility, it was widely reported on Thursday.

German authorities are investigating the unknown perpetrators on suspicion of negligent manslaughter, the Associated Press, German news outlet NTV, and others reported on Thursday. The event under investigation occurred last Friday when the unidentified woman was turned away from Duesseldorf University Hospital because a ransomware attack hampered its ability to operate normally. The woman was rushed to a hospital about 20 miles away, resulting in about a one-hour delay in treatment. She died.

So far, little is known publicly about the ransomware strain or the attackers involved in the infection, which began last Thursday, about 24 hours before the death occurred. A report from the North Rhine-Westphalia state justice minister said that the attack encrypted about 30 hospital servers and left a message instructing the Heinrich Heine University, to which the Duesseldorf hospital is affiliated, to contact the attackers.

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Sony Xperia 5 II is a $950 flagship smartphone with a headphone jack

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 10:57am

Sony's next flagship smartphone, a followup to the Xperia 1 II released earlier this year, is the Xperia 5 II. Like the previous phone, the 5 II is a top-tier flagship with a Snapdragon 865 SoC, but it comes with a smaller screen and finally bumps the display up to a faster refresh rate.

The Xperia 5 II is named similarly to Sony's camera line, so it's pronounced "Xperia five mark two." The display is the main difference from the Xperia 1 II: a 6.1-inch, 2520×1080 OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The 1 II had a bigger, higher-res display, (a 6.5-inch, 3840×1644 display) but it was only 60Hz. The rest of the 5 II specs include a Snapdragon 865 SoC, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 4000mAh battery. There's a side fingerprint reader, a microSD slot, a headphone jack, IP68 water resistance, and stereo speakers. There are three 12MP cameras on the back for the main, telephoto, and wide angle lenses, along with a ToF sensor. The front camera is 8MP.

Sony's press release actually has a release date for the US: "In the US, the Xperia 5 II will be available unlocked in black and comes equipped with Android 10. The Xperia 5 II will be available for pre-order for about $950 on September 29, 2020 and ships to customers on December 4, 2020."

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This is GM’s new series of Ultium Drive electric motors

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 9:53am

It might be too early to say that the auto industry is undergoing a great electrification. But more and more automakers are headed in that direction as product pipelines swell, with new battery-electric vehicles arriving over the next few years. Take General Motors—it plans to bring 22 new BEVs to market between now and 2023, starting with a reborn GMC Hummer to be debuted later this September. To make matters simpler, GM is standardizing the components it will use to build what promises to be a wide variety of vehicles.

We already learned a little about GM's modular Ultium battery packs, which it claims will break the $100/kWh barrier "early in the platform's life." As the reveal of the Hummer approaches, the company is opening up about other aspects of its new BEV brigade. And this week it was time for motors to take to the stage. GM has developed a new family of modular drive units called Ultium Drive that it will mix and match in cars, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks.

In total, there are five drive units, each of which integrates the power electronics as well as the electric motors. There are drive units for front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and an assist all-wheel drive unit, and then a pair of drive units for trucks. One of these can be used for the front or rear axle, while the other is a dual motor drive unit for rear axles. And inside each drive unit is one of three electric motors in the Ultium Drive family: a permanent magnet primary front-wheel drive motor, a permanent magnet primary drive motor that's happy in either front- or rear-wheel drive configurations, and a smaller induction magnet assist motor.

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Impending WeChat ban won’t actually ban users from WeChat, DOJ says

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 9:07am
There's no ban on WeChat in the US right now, the DOJ says, which is true—but that's supposed to change, somehow, in the immediate future, and nobody knows how.

Enlarge / There's no ban on WeChat in the US right now, the DOJ says, which is true—but that's supposed to change, somehow, in the immediate future, and nobody knows how. (credit: Budrul Chukrut | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

Three days before a ban on the use of China-owned app WeChat in the United States is supposed to take effect, the Trump administration still hasn't said what specifically is being banned—only that individuals will not be penalized for using the app, despite the alleged threat it presents to national security.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross does "not intend to take actions that would target persons or groups whose only connection with WeChat is their use or downloading of the app to convey personal or business information between users, or otherwise define the relevant transactions in such a way that would impose criminal or civil liability on such users," attorneys for the Department of Justice wrote in a court filing (PDF).

Users of WeChat may find services "directly or indirectly impaired" by whatever measures the administration does end up imposing, the filing continued, but "use and downloading of the app for this limited purpose will not be a defined transaction."

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The end of the 3DS marks an inflection point for portable gaming

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 8:51am

Nintendo seems to have halted production on all variations of the Nintendo 3DS, marking the first time since 2004 that Nintendo is not producing any dual-screen portable systems.

Nintendo's Japanese website now lists all the recent hardware variations in the Nintendo 3DS line (the Nintendo 2DS, New Nintendo 2DS LL, and New Nintendo 3DS LL) as "Out of Production." Nintendo's US site, meanwhile, seems to have been scrubbed of all mentions of the 3DS: the system's official landing page now just redirects to Nintendo's general home page, while Google's cache and The Internet Archive showed an active promotional page just days ago.

Back in 2017, Nintendo said explicitly that the newly launched Nintendo Switch wouldn't replace the 3DS. Since then, the company has repeatedly reaffirmed that continued support, saying as recently as last November that the 3DS would be supported into 2020.

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AG Barr: COVID lockdowns are worst threat to civil liberties since slavery

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 8:22am
Attorney General William Barr walking down a hallway while wearing a mask.

Enlarge / William Barr, US attorney general, center, arrives for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

US Attorney General William Barr yesterday compared lockdown orders to slavery, saying that measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are one of the biggest violations of civil liberties in US history.

"Putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history," Barr said in a Q&A session after delivering a speech at Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Based on that comment, Barr apparently thinks stay-at-home orders designed to reduce the spread of a deadly virus are a greater violation of civil liberties than Jim Crow laws, oppression of Native Americans, and Japanese internment camps run by the US during World War II. Besides that, there was never actually a national lockdown, largely due to the actions of Trump himself. States imposed varying levels of movement restrictions and stay-at-home orders while the Trump administration refused to implement a coherent national strategy and while Trump repeatedly undermined governors by claiming he has "total" authority to override their stay-at-home orders. As Trump downplayed the virus's severity and made calls to "liberate" residents of states with aggressive pandemic responses, Barr threatened to have the US government sue states that don't lift stay-at-home and business-shutdown orders.

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F5 for PS5: All your PlayStation 5 preorder links in one place

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 8:16am
To call Sony's PlayStation 5 in-demand would be an understatement.

Enlarge / To call Sony's PlayStation 5 in-demand would be an understatement.

PlayStation 5 pre-orders are open, but the situation is a bit of a disaster. When Sony announced pricing details for its next-generation game console on Wednesday—confirming that the standard PS5 would cost $499, while a Digital Edition without a disc drive would cost $399—it officially stated that preorders would begin on Thursday, September 17. The company did not specify when or where these orders would be available, however, merely saying that eager customers could pick the device up at "select retailers."

The period since has been chaos. Major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy instead made the console available a few hours after Sony's game showcase on Wednesday. This naturally led to a rush of gamers flooding these storefronts in order to secure their own machine in time for its November 12 release date, which in turn resulted in broken links, site crashes, and extremely quick stock shortages. GameStop saw enough traffic for its site to trigger some sort of DDoS protection, while Best Buy's online store was intermittently inaccessible Thursday morning.

Anecdotally, a couple of Ars writers were able to secure orders from Walmart shortly after the retailer set preorders live, but only after several cart refreshes, and only because they acted within the 30 minutes or so that the device was actually available. Amazon, meanwhile, set their preorders live late Wednesday around midnight ET, only for consoles to sell out within a similarly brief timeframe.

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Why Amazon is backing this former Tesla executive’s recycling startup

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 7:31am
Empty phone batteries are sorted by the company Accurec Recycling GmbH.

Enlarge / Empty phone batteries are sorted by the company Accurec Recycling GmbH. (credit: Ina Fassbender | Getty Images)

Tesla cofounder JB Straubel has been funded by Amazon for Redwood Materials, a start-up aiming to extract lithium, cobalt and nickel from old smartphones and other electronics for reuse in new electric batteries.

Redwood is one of five companies Amazon is investing in as part of its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund, announced this year.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, said in a statement that this first batch of companies were “channelling their entrepreneurial energy into helping Amazon and other companies reach net zero by 2040 and keep the planet safer for future generations.”

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It’s now possible to detect counterfeit whisky without opening the bottle

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:47am
Inside a dunnage warehouse of Highland Park whisky distillery. A new portable spectrometer would help detect counterfeit whiskies.

Enlarge / Inside a dunnage warehouse of Highland Park whisky distillery. A new portable spectrometer would help detect counterfeit whiskies. (credit: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Image)

There's nothing quite like the pleasure of sipping a fine Scotch whisky, for those whose tastes run to such indulgences. But how can you be sure that you're paying for the real deal and not some cheap counterfeit? Good news: physicists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have figured out how to test the authenticity of bottles of fine Scotch whisky using laser light, without ever having to open the bottles. They described their work in a recent paper published in the journal Analytical Methods.

As we reported last year, there is an exploding demand for expensive rare whiskies—yes, even in the middle of a global pandemic—so naturally there has been a corresponding increase in the number of counterfeit bottles infiltrating the market. A 2018 study subjected 55 randomly selected bottles from auctions, private collectors, and retailers to radiocarbon dating and found that 21 of them were either outright fakes or not distilled in the year claimed on the label.

Ten of those fakes were supposed to be single-malt scotches from 1900 or earlier, prompting Rare Whisky 101 cofounder David Robertson to publicly declare, "It is our genuine belief that every purported pre-1900 bottle should be assumed fake until proven genuine, certainly if the bottle claims to be a single malt Scotch whisky." There's also an influx of counterfeit cheaper whiskies seeping into the markets, which could pose an even greater challenge, albeit less of a headline-grabbing one.

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Hammer drops on hackers accused of targeting game and software makers

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 4:45am
A large seal of a white, Classical Revival-style office building is flanked by flags.

Enlarge / The Department of Justice seal as seen during a press conference in December 2019. (credit: Samuel Corum | Getty Images)

For more than a decade, hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government have brazenly pursued advanced cyber intrusions on technology companies, with a particular focus on those that market software, such as CCleaner, role-playing games, and other types of games. On Wednesday, US authorities fired back, charging seven men allegedly backed by the Chinese government for carrying out a string of financially motivated hacks on more than 100 US and overseas organizations.

US prosecutors said the men targeted tech companies with the aim of stealing software-signing certificates, customer account data, and valuable business information, all with the tacit approval of the Chinese government. Working for front companies located in China, the defendants allegedly used the intrusions into game and software makers for money laundering, identity theft, wire and access device fraud, and to facilitate other criminal schemes, such as ransomware and cryptojacking schemes.

Legal protection

According to one of three indictments unsealed on Wednesday, defendant Jiang Lizhi boasted of his connections to China’s Ministry of State Security and claimed it provided him with legal protection “unless something very big happens.” Jiang’s business associate, Qian Chuan, allegedly spent the past 10 years supporting Chinese government projects, including development of a secure cleaning tool to wipe confidential data from digital media.

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After ranting about armed uprising, top Health Dept. spokesperson takes leave

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 3:53pm
A man in a suit walks through an out-of-focus office building.

Enlarge / Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Mark Wilson)

Michael Caputo—the controversial spokesperson for the US Department of Health and Human Services, most recently known for watering down federal reports on COVID-19, railing against social distancing measures, and warning of left-wing “hit-squads” planning a post-election insurrection—has taken a 60-day leave of absence from the department.

Caputo “decided to take a leave of absence to focus on his health and the well-being of his family,” the HHS said Wednesday in a statement sent to Ars.

The statement also noted that Caputo’s scientific advisor, Paul Alexander—known recently for trying to muzzle top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci—is also on his way out.

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Bill to tear down federal courts’ paywall gains momentum in Congress

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 2:59pm
Two men in suits and face masks confer in front of a US flag.

Enlarge / Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) disagree about many issues, but they both support the Open Courts Act. (credit: KEVIN DIETSCH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the Open Courts Act—legislation to overhaul PACER, the federal courts' system for accessing public documents. The proposal would guarantee free public access to judicial documents, ending the current practice of charging 10 cents per page for many documents—as well as search results.

The bill must still be passed by the full House and the Senate and signed by the president. With Election Day just seven weeks away, the act is unlikely to become law during this session of Congress.

Still, the vote is significant because it indicates the breadth of congressional support for tearing down the PACER paywall. The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), whose bill we covered in 2018, and a fellow Georgian, Democrat Hank Johnson.

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We found out who makes Walmart’s new Gateway laptops, and it’s bad news

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 2:28pm
Fun colors—but we're waiting to see what the innards look like.

Enlarge / Fun colors—but we're waiting to see what the innards look like. (credit: Gateway)

Back in 2007, Taiwan-based PC manufacturer Acer bought the once-iconic Gateway brand in order to stick a thumb in the eye of rival OEM Lenovo and increase its US market presence. In the 13 years since, the Gateway brand has languished largely unused, while Acer built up its own name in the United States directly. The cow is officially back now, though, with a new line of mostly budget, Walmart-exclusive Gateway laptops.

The new line ranges from $180 to $1,000, and several models seem interesting—but when we looked closer, we found a familiar and not particularly attractive name behind the brand. Gateway is also making two models of Android tablet—an 8" GWAT8-1 which doesn't appear to be available retail yet, and a 10" model available at Walmart for $67. Trying to find more detail on the GWAT8-1 led us to a surprising discovery—it's actually made (or imported) by EVOO.

In June of this year, we reviewed and absolutely despised a $140 EVOO laptop—a device powered by an AMD A4-9120e CPU, just like the cheapest model of Gateway laptop in the table above. The new GWTN116-1BL has twice the RAM and storage compared to the effectively uncooled, drastically underclocked, and absolutely bletcherous EVOO EV-C-116-5—but when we went sleuthing, we discovered shipping records indicating that it, too, is an EVOO system.

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PlayStation 5 event: $499 with a disc drive, $399 without, on Nov. 12

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 1:47pm

As part of a PlayStation 5 showcase today, Sony finally revealed the launch pricing for the PlayStation 5: $499.99 for the standard edition (€499.99, £449.99, ¥49,980) or $399 for the "All-Digital" version without a disc drive (or €399.99, £359.99, ¥39,980).

Both consoles will launch on November 12 in the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, followed by a November 19 launch in the rest of the world. Pre-orders will be available at select retailers starting Thursday, September 16, Sony said after the event, though some retailers like WalmartBest Buy, and GameStop in the US have made the console available as soon as Wednesday. (Update, 5:20pm EDT: Sony Interactive Entertainment has confirmed five first-party launch titles shipping alongside PS5 on November 12: Astro's Playroom (pre-installed for free on all PS5 consoles), Demon's Souls, Destruction All-Stars, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure.)

The $499 price matches Microsoft's Xbox Series X pricing on the top end of the next console generation. The All Digital Edition, however, comes in at $100 more than the similarly discless Xbox Series S, which is also a step down in hardware power from the Series X.

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Trump replaces FCC member in bid to push through Twitter/Facebook crackdown

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 1:16pm
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly speaks at a conference while FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and Chairman Ajit Pai look on.

Enlarge / Federal Communication Commission Republican members (L-R) Brendan Carr, Michael O'Rielly, and Chairman Ajit Pai participate in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

President Donald Trump today nominated one of his administration officials to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in an attempt to push through his proposed crackdown on social media websites.

Trump announced the nomination of Nathan Simington, who is currently a senior advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Simington "played a significant role in the agency's social media regulation agenda," as The Verge reported last week when news broke that Trump was considering Simington for the FCC position.

Simington would replace Republican Michael O'Rielly, who apparently angered Trump by saying that the FCC must uphold First Amendment speech protections "that apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making." O'Rielly's comments signaled that he isn't likely to support the Trump administration petition, submitted by the NTIA, that asks the FCC to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in order to limit social media platforms' legal protections for hosting third-party content when the platforms take down or alter content they consider objectionable.

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